Ear wax can be irritating and cause discomfort however, it’s a necessary component of the ear for protection. Find out everything you need to know about earwax including how to remove it safely and what colors to look for. Ear health keeps you healthy overall and keeps your hearing protected as well.
Why do we have ear wax?
Ear wax helps to naturally clean the ear. It's not actually a wax but gained the name from the waxy texture. The substance is a mixture of sebum, skin cells, sweat, and dirt. Furthermore, ear wax keeps water out of the ear, moisturizes the canal, prevents dry and itchy ears, and fights infection while protecting the eardrum.
Without ear wax, many sounds would be louder and cause damage to the inner ear and drum. However, the most important purpose of the substance is to prevent infection and keep the ear clean with antibacterial qualities. Wax can even prevent dust and other substances from reaching the inner ear and causing issues.
Another fantastic benefit of ear wax is it can act as an insect repellent to keep insects from entering the ear. Furthermore, the wax can trap bugs and objects that try to enter the canal and prevent serious issues and irritation. For these reasons, ear wax is a necessary component of the ear.
How does ear wax form in your ear?
Glands in the skin under the ear canals form earwax from dead skin cells. From there, the secretions travel with slow-growing skin cells, and over them, the wax moves from the inner ear to the canal. The outer ear canal that makes the ear wax allows for less ear wax, making the amount necessary to support optimal ear wax levels and protection.
Symptoms of earwax build-up
When the ear contains excess amounts of wax, it can cause several problems. First, you may notice sudden partial hearing loss temporarily. Second, some people experience tinnitus, a ringing or buzzing in the ear. Third, the ear may have a full feeling or ache.
With severe build-up, people can experience severe ear pain that will not subside over time. Also, the ear may try draining itself, leading to drainage, fever, coughing, consistent hair loss, foul odor from the ear, and dizziness. If you experience any of these issues, seek a medical professional immediately.
As everyone has slightly different mixtures of substances, the color, texture, and smell from ear wax can change drastically with each person. Keep track of your ear wax to find out what your normal is so you can identify changes. Also, some people may experience ear wax issues when traveling at higher altitudes. Do not make decisions about your ear health while flying or traveling on mountains.
Is it good to have wax in your ear?
The ear cannot protect itself without some ear wax. As it's a necessary substance to protect the ear. However, excessive ear wax can cause unnecessary issues. Never attempt to remove all of the ear wax from an ear, as this can leave your ear susceptible to infection. You will always need some wax to prevent issues with your ears.
Keep an eye on the color of the wax in your ear. Off white, yellow, orange, or brown ear wax are normal. However, yellow-green, green, gray, or black ear wax can indicate an issue you will want to check. Ear wax tinged with blood could be a sign of injury and should be seen by a doctor.
What causes a lot of earwax?
The cause for excess earwax depends on the person. Some people simply produce too much earwax, while others misuse cotton swabs and push ear wax deeper into the canal while simultaneously compacting the substance. Individuals who use earbuds tend to build up wax as well by inadvertently preventing drainage. Using hearing aids, earplugs can also prevent proper ear drainage and cause build-up in the ear.
How to prevent ear wax build-up?
The first thing you should do to prevent earwax build-up is to stop using cotton swabs to clean out the ear. Also, avoid ear wax candling or putting anything else in your ear without your doctor's approval. Finally, never use your finger to clean out your ear. Instead, use an otoscope to look inside the ear and safely remove build-up.
Cleaning the ear properly is vital to preventing build-up for some people. Many people never need to do anything as their ears seem more capable of reducing wax on its own. Other people seem to be ear wax factories who need a little extra help and not from a cotton swab or point objects.
An otoscope can enter the ear safely, look around, locate wax, and remove the wax without damage when used properly. Another option is to use an ear cleaning kit, but these are often messy, uncomfortable, and not as effective as an otoscope. With the ear otoscope, you can visualize the inner ear with clarity and prevent damage with an added light.
Additionally, make sure to clean any products that enter the ear. When using headphones, earbuds, hearing aids, or earplugs, always wash and sanitize the products as build-up and dirt on these devices can mix with the ear wax and create excessive build-up. Avoid using ear drops too often as these can also mix with wax and create build-up when used in excess.
How does ear wax come out?
Most often, ear wax comes out of the ear by the motion of the jaw when chewing or talking. Additionally, the inner ear moves from moving the mouth to help remove excessive wax naturally. Over time, the wax will dry up and fall out of the ear. For some people, the wax will come out while they are sleeping or showering.
Ear wax is necessary to protect the ear from sound, damage, illness, and insects. However, sometimes ear wax can build up excessively and cause uncomfortable symptoms like ear pain, tinnitus, partial hearing loss, and dizziness. Avoid build-up by avoiding the use of cotton swabs or sharp objects. Instead, choose a cleaning kit or use an otoscope to clean the ear without a mess and with improved accuracy.
Many people do not need to worry about ear wax build-up as their ears clean better naturally. However, others who use some type of ear devices like earplugs or hearing aids may have excessive wax. The color of the ear wax can indicate issues and may let you know when it's time to visit a doctor. Take care of your ears with the proper tools to prevent problems and always clean and sanitize anything that enters the ear.